Brad Saunders, left, and Brandon Whissell battle for the finish line during the 2015 Woody’s Triathlon. (file photo)

Woody’s Triathlon moving full steam ahead

The Woody’s Triathlon has been a staple in Red Deer for almost 20 years and even with a few fallen trees on the trails, organizers are still expecting the race to go ahead this weekend.

Shaun Richer, who has been involved with the race on all sides and is the race director this year, said they’ll do their best to make it work.

After the conversations he’s had with various parties who help maintain the trails where the race will be held, he hasn’t even considered the possibility it won’t go ahead.

“We’re moving of ahead and we have full intentions of having the race and I’m fairly confident with everybody that we’re going to pull together and make sure that this happens,” Richer said.

He’s been living the past few days in that way, ready to make adjustments at a moments notice, all so the 500-plus competitors can enjoy the fun experience of the event.

“I know it sounds corny, but having fun is our biggest thing. Non-competitive, we’re just all about the kids and providing a fun experience, even for our adults,” he said.

Richer is especially excited about the 376 kids’ competitors they have for this year’s race. From ages 5-15, many of the kids have been training for the past 10 weeks on Sundays to prepare for race day.

“It’s awesome because we get to see on these kids go from ‘I’m not really sure if I want to do it’ then they get their medal (on race day) and get their T-shirt which they’re pretty happy to wear, not only this year, but we see kids that still wear the shirt from five years ago,” he added.

For the past few years, it’s only been the kids racing because of the construction at the traffic circle on 30th Avenue and 67th Street, which is a main part of the sprint course. This year, the adults are back in the mix, with more than 100 registered for the sprint race Sunday.

On June 24, the kids will gather at the Michener Centre around 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning, with the race set to begin at 9 a.m. Race distances also vary for each age group, something the Richer also said is key.

“It’s very accommodating for that younger-to-older age group,” he added.

All the sprint triathlon racers, including juniors, adults and relay teams will meet at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, before the race starts at 7 a.m.

Richer said it’s long been the mandate of the board of directors for the race and himself that experience as a whole is a family fun one, with a BBQ and bouncy castles as part of the festivities.

“We have other things that make it more than a race and that’s why we’ve coined it, come out for the family festival. That’s really what it is,” Richer said. “The big thing I want these kids to take away from this … for me personally I am a triathlete, and I love the opportunity we are able to share the love of our sport and our passion to these kids.”

He added the numbers this year are down a bit and he recognizes with the economy the way it is, the lower turnout is a reality every triathlon in Alberta is facing. He’s just happy they’re still able to put on a race.

“I do know there’s been racing in Alberta that have outright cancelled because of low registration,” Richer said. “So when you look at all that, I’m really happy we still have 376 kids (racing).”

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